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Thursday, Menachem Av 7, 5782 / August 4, 2022


This Shabbat is the 9th day of Av, which in other years would be a fast day. However, because this year it falls on Shabbat, we push off the fast to Saturday night and Sunday. Jews all over the world will fast and mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temples, which took place on the 9th of Av.


Thank G-d we live today in an era of religious freedom. However, in previous generations, when Jews were second class citizens in many countries, with very little or no rights; with pogroms, looting Jewish homes and businesses. To them, Tisha B’Av was a day of mourning not only for the destruction which took place thousands of years earlier, it was also an expression of mourning for their current sufferings.


Q.  What is the purpose of mourning for the destruction of the Temples which happened over two thousand years ago?


A.   During this time, we reflect and remember the reasons which brought about the destruction of the Temples.  It was due to hatred and strife amongst our people that G-d decreed that the Temple be destroyed. We, today, remember the past in order to learn from it in the present.  It serves as a reminder of the importance of the mitzvah of, “love your fellow as yourself.”


The Talmud tells the following story of five great Talmudic sages. Rabbi Gamliel, Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva were walking to Jerusalem. Upon reaching Mount Tzofim, they saw the site of the destroyed Holy Temple from the distance. At that point, they tore their clothes in mourning, as Jewish law dictates.  When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox roaming where the Temple once stood.


Three of the rabbis began to weep, while Rabbi Akiva laughed.


"Why are you laughing?" the others protested.


"Why are you crying?" Rabbi Akiva replied.


"We see the most holy spot of the Beth Hamikdash (Holy Temple), where at one time no one except the High Priest could enter, other than on Yom Kippur, now foxes are roaming there!   How can we not cry?"


Rabbi Akiva answered, "Your crying is the reason for my laughing.  When I see that the prophecies of destruction were fulfilled to the fullest, I am encouraged and confident that the prophecies which state that good times will come, will surely be fulfilled and come true."


With the words, "Your crying is the reason for my laughing,” Rabbi Akiva was saying to them, “When I see that the Temple was not forgotten and Jews continue to cry for the destruction of the Holy Temples, this gives me the confidence that it is not forever lost and it will eventually be re-built.

May it be speedily in our days. Amen.